Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, is one of the most common ailments. Close to 20 million people were told last year by a doctor that they have hay fever. Hay fever describes the allergic symptoms that occur when the body’s immune system releases chemicals upon exposure to airborne allergens such as pollens, dust, animal dander or feathers. Plants that cause hay fever include trees, grasses and weeds.
Some hay fever symptoms occur immediately after you have been exposed to the allergen. They include:
- Itchy nose, mouth, eyes, throat or ski.
- Problems with smell
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
Other hay fever symptoms may occur later:
- Stuffy nose (nasal congestion)
- Clogged ears
- Soar throat
- Dark circles or puffiness under the eyes
- Fatigue & irritability
EXAMS & TESTS
- Your health care provider may do a physical exam, ask questions about your symptoms and what triggers them, and run blood and skin tests to diagnose your condition.
TO PREVENT & TREAT SYMPTOMS:
- Avoid the allergen whenever possible. Mild allergic rhinitis may be helped by a saline nasal wash to remove mucus from the nose.
- Use prescription and nonprescription medications. Ask your health care provider about antihistamines, nasal corticosteroid sprays, decongestants and other medicines, such as leukotriene inhibitors.
- Try immunotherapy via injection of allergen extracts to adjust and calm your body’s immune response.
Antihistamines and nasal steroids can be helpful for allergy symptoms which are available without a prescription. For more severe or persistent symptoms, a nasal steroid can help. Nasal steroids need to be used daily and may take a week to start working.